“`I’m just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don’t they? ‘”( pg. 15) In The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is a sixteen year-old who is disgusted at all the phony people in the world. For example where artists sacrifice their art for fame and mothers cry fake tears in movies. The importance of not being phony and being honest is the theme that Salinger presents in this story. Holden had difficulty fitting in at school and around the real world.
Holden had a tough time fitting in at his schools because he thought of almost everyone as phonies. “`It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques’ (pg. 131). ” He seems to have a history of expulsion and failure at various schools because of his lack of ability to cope with others.
Ordinary problems of his had turned into major conflicts with other students. “I hate fist fights. I don’t mind getting hit so much – although I’m not crazy about it, naturally – but what scares me most in a fist fight is the guy’s face. I can’t stand looking at the other guy’s face, is my trouble. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could both be blindfolded or something. It’s a funny kind of yellowness, when you come to think of it, but it’s yellowness, all right. I’m not kidding myself. (pg. )” Holden got into a fight with his roommate at school because he was going out with his ex-girlfriend. He’s afraid that the guy is taking her from him, even though he’s not with her anymore.
These are problems that are normal, but Holden has trouble dealing with them. Holden’s problems in the real world were too much for him, he had to make up things to make himself seem better than what he was. “Then I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop lying. Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No kidding. Hours. g. 58)” These lies he made up, such as fake illness’s, were used to get sympathy when he didn’t deserve it. Him lying, contradicted what he said about how he hates phonies, because in turn he becomes a phony. Holden was never happy about where he was in life, always at the other end of the happiness spectrum. “That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any.
You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘Fu#k you’ right under your nose. g. 204)” Whenever he thought he reached happiness, somebody messed it up for him. Like with his brother Allie who he loved very much, he had great times with him, but he ended up dying of leukemia. With chronic sadness in his life, it was predictable that Holden would end up having an emotional breakdown. Holden could not handle the pressure of school and the real world. Even though he hated phonies, at times he was also a phony. Being hypocritical, Holden was able to see how important it is to be honest in life.